Every Saturday I feature excerpts from my writing. For the month of April, here I give you 27 Yards An’ Runnin’…
“Wake up…” this gravely baritoned, all-too-familiar voice greeted me, permeating through the thick barrier of my down-filled pillows. The words were nearly indistinct, while at the same time its robust intonation was fully perceptible. It was from my cousin Hendrix, who was waking me up for work. Just like everyday, he was right on cue for the morning ritual. I not only even had it timed now, but my body responded accordingly by waking up early in antcipation to it; despite the fact that the alarm on my phone located underneath my pillow was set to go off just a few minutes later. He would come into my room unannounced and blare out his version of an endearing, morning salutation; precisely train an object at the heap that I was underneath the warm comforter; and then promptly enter into my bathroom to take a racehorse-with-a-full-bladder like piss. Every imposing sensory input given by him was as increasingly jarring as the last. However this time, he apparently added another not-so-charming part to the morning routine.
“C’mon, we go’ t‘nventory t’ phill t’day. And y’u put i- t’off from las’ night,” he reminded me. His speech sounded slightly impaired, as if he were suffering from a stroke. But in this case, it was worse.
Slowly, I pulled my head away from within the respective crevice I’d spent the better part of the night molding from the pillows and turned in his general direction. It was a temperate respite, almost deafening to the world, and held an absolute welcomed reprieve of darkness. The rapid departure from such a haven quickly beckoned me back, especially when I was hastily reminded that my room was awfully drafty, especially for this late-spring morning. But I suppose that’s what you get when you wanted to lease one of these notorious “New York” apartments that was preserved of their rustic sentiments— which was a kinder way of saying that everything was outdated as hell.
The early dawn’s rays— courtesy of an east-facing window that was in desperate need of weather stripping— allowed the full-on glory of the 7 AM light to pour in; of which were now stinging my bloodshot, raccoon-like eyes with a sensation as if I had been, in preparation from the night before, masochistically applying lemon drops and coarsely gritted, salty sand into them. It was also then, as if the volume of it had slowly been turned up, when I could hear the city’s arteries flowing with her lifeblood: the metallic shearing of the train’s wheels against the tracks, all the horns, sirens, and sudden-stop screeches from which made up the congested rush-hour traffic, I could even almost hear the individual pedestrians on the street muttering on with conversations of business or pleasure… or simply manic musings. In all, my city, too, was lending me her warm salutation. I smiled slightly at the sentiment.
I then inhaled hard, and rubbed the crust from my eyes, taking a moment more to adjust my senses to the previous doses of stimuli. But as I did… “Man, are you usin’ my toothbrush!?” was the thing I asked, as my only concern at the present moment.
“I’ll get y’u an’other one,” my cousin nonchalantly replied through the thickening foam of toothpaste. The statement was also tinged with a thin air of obliviousness; tantamount to the blood he now produced as he continued to brush. “Too much force?” I began to wonder to myself. “Onset gingivitis, perhaps? Any number of STD’s contracted from strange cunnilingus?” In any case, I surely didn’t want it back now. Seeing my apparent irritation, he stopped brushing and smiled at me, coupled with an exaggerated wink. With the blood now mixed in with the froth, turning it a faint pink, all I could think of in that moment is that he looked gleefully… rabid.
I pushed my head back underneath to the refuge of my pillows, now trying to stay the full-on wrath of an oncoming headache, which was being delivered from the sun and slight annoyance that only my cousin could inspire.
“Do we have any more pancake mix?” a sweet voice asked, turning my auditory attention back toward the room’s threshold. That, too, was a familiar voice. But it couldn’t help but to inspire all-but-the-contrary of the aforementioned sentiments. For it came from Rena: Hendrix’s first steady girlfriend since… forever I think. I knew it was official and not just another one-nighter or fleeting romance when I noticed there was an extra toothbrush in his bathroom one day way back when. And not just any toothbrush, an electric one— a “his” and “hers” set that he admitted to picking out from the Brookstone in LaGuardia! Although she had a place of her own around the way, Rena had since become a semi-permanent resident at ours, which was no biggie to me at all.
All at once, the headache of mine began to subside. I pulled my head out once again; poised to behold the only person I’ve witnessed in the flesh with the effortless ability to roll out of bed and look runway ready. She had on a basketball jersey— oversized for her frame— with little else underneath. She and Hendrix must’ve done the business again, I gathered. I figured as much, not because of the attire, but because she had that glow about her— the kind that was only brought on by a late night (and sometimes on into an early morning) tryst. Although the glow also could’ve been because of the fact that she was standing in the direct path of the sunrays too… but never mind that.
“Sup Ré,” (pronounced like ray [get it?]) I called out, trying not to sound so eager. I endearingly called her that because I always saw her as a “ray” of beauty. Corny, I know. But for real though, I really needed to stop molesting her with my eyes, because I’m sure it looked creepy. However, I could never tell by the way she so sweetly smiled back at me.
“Hey Soon. Morning,” she replied with an airy, sing-songy cadience. “You hungry?”
Through that radiant smile, she then responded in an almost sensual whisper, “ ‘Kay.”
The way she said it to me sounded so… intimate. I would oftentimes forget that she was just nice like that. Still, that wouldn’t stop me from slipping into the false sense of illusion as if she were, somehow, with both Hendrix and me. A fantasy that was often quickly crushed by the reality that when it came to something like sex, for example, I could only live vicariously through my [lucky] cousin’s exploits; privy only to the excessive moans and loud grunts that would eminate through the walls of his room, on the occasions that they were both high, torridly amorous, and oblivious to the fact that there was someone else in the apartment playing Madden for example!
I’d always envied Hendrix for coming across Rena, because she was an all-around good woman; the epitome of what anyone would call a thoroughbred. She cleaned up the accumulation of what two messy guys like us made about the place; and, among other domestically-essential things, fixed us the best breakfasts and dinners. She was also responsible for keeping account of the records, bookkeeping, and other important paperwork for the business Hendrix and I have together.
I did get to see her naked once too!
It was a text meant for Hendrix that was sent to me on accident. (Short version of an unnecessary-to-go-into-detail-for of a side story: swapped SIM cards while a phone was being replaced.) It was a candid selfie of her standing in the bathroom apparently fresh out the shower. “Man…” I said to myself when I saw it back then, “So this is the infamous text he would pause for, no matter what he was doing.” I remember his reaction would always be the same; her personal chime would blare out, indicating an incoming message, he’d reach for his phone, stare at the screen, wryly chuckle with a hint of a smirk, and then break away from his business to, apparently, handle business. And now I knew why.
No lie, her body was amazing. She used to be a dancer what now seems like a lifetime ago, but still stayed in shape not only with the running around she did for us, but spinning sessions and mixed martial arts classes at the Y. And boy, did it show. And the picture was far from pornographic, but more like… artistic. Because beyond all that would attract a thirsty dude, what really struck me about the photo was her face— more specifically: her eyes. Everything about them held the perfect “imperfections” that would’ve made them definitely the latter if done in excess— however in her case, they are what made her. Occasionally, she would take out the hazel contacts that she didn’t even need in the first place and sport her natural, beautifully soulful, uncannily deep, dark browns. They were big like a cartoon character (but not cartoonish), cinched close together, and when staring straight on, they crossed slightly. That was the naked of her that I lusted after… for lack of a better way of saying it.
And with those eyes staring into the artificial iris of her phone’s camera, she held a harmoniously cohabitating look of both innocence and guile, confidence and vulnerability, a quintessentially sensual, intimate nuance in the form of ones and zeroes and not simply just some grapic pic. This was her calling card for him to come and get it… and right five-minutes-ago. The excess steam from the shower already gave the pic an airy glow, while the strategic placement of hands and towels hinted of eroticism [and the clever forethought of the protection from future embarrassment had this gotten into the wrong hands (i.e., yours truly, apparently). So, I guess I really didn’t see her naked, but I knew enough to fill in the blanks, feel me?
I remember… glancing at it for all of three seconds, but then deleted it without thinking twice about it. That wasn’t mine to keep, or to even droolingly ogle for an extended period. I wouldn’t… I couldn’t… play my cousin like that. Even if at one time a case against him could be built. In the beginning… back when it was “just a thing…” he sometimes undervalued her realness, and kind of played her to the left. However, the fact that she did manage to hang in there and do whatever she did to slow Hendrix down just goes to show how much more there was to her than I would ever know, and that she was meant for him (and he for her). Plus, despite all that, to poach his girl would simply be a disloyal, hater move. I didn’t need to pine for his when the great Big Apple had many ‘a ladies to choose from. And I was as eligible of a bachelor as they come: young, independently employed, credit was immaculate, and I had no attachments (that I was aware of). If “she” was out there, I just now knew who to rate them against. Rena was the prototype.
And then there it was; the guitar riff of the aptly titled song by Andrè 3000 of Outkast, which now began to play in my head as she continued to stand in the doorway staring back at me. I knew where this was going… my mind was starting to elaborate deeper into my imagination. This would be better than any wet dream I could conjure up. It’d all since gone into a slow motion-like, dreamy-hazed sequence. The sunlight had now given her an even more surreal radience, especially about the face. Stylistic-colored designs and symbols of no rhyme and reason began emanating from behind her. Butterflies fluttered about, robins sung melodically, and— for some odd reason— uber chibi, anthropomorphic kittens scurried around her feet. Some of who were holding strategically placed purple sashes that were covering up her (you guessed it) now nude body. Her dark skin was misty and supple, as if she were… just— out— of— the— shower. Wow… I’d done it. Right before my eyes, I’d sucessfully transformed her into the infamous picture Hendrix gets.
One thing that my mind was good for, was wandering far from reality when it felt like it. But, instead of a knowing daydream where I took off within a new world of my design, sounds and sights that were the spawn of my imagination were superimposed upon the reality in which I perceived. It felt like being fully conscious within the twilight zone. And, since music was a big part of my life (more on that later), apropos to the song that was now going off, I always had a track cued up. It was an event that was at times fun— especially when I was creating a scene such as this. However, there were also other times…
But for now…
“Stank you smelly much…”